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Complaining is a difficult topic to cover, for it's often hard to distinguish between complaining and constructive criticism.  Without criticism, without a certain degree of discontent, we wouldn't progress at all, we wouldn't have any changes come about to better our lives.  But looking at a wrong and calling it a wrong, and simply pointing out a perceived negative aspect of every part of our lives are two different things.

I've had times in my life, for example, when things completely beyond my control were going badly, and I've wanted more than anything else to talk them over with someone.  When I tried to talk them over with the friends I had at the time, some of them said I was just complaining, and didn't really listen to what I had to say.  Because I still hadn't been able to discuss what was going wrong, I would try to talk it over with someone else, with pretty much the same results. What I didn't realize then was that if people aren't going to listen with a sympathetic ear to what you're trying to say, don't talk to those people about problems.  They won't understand, because they won't try to understand.

When I finally did find someone to talk with, things got much better, and my desire to talk about the negative things grew less and less as I was able to express myself to some very special friends.  I guess the point here is that we should be careful of what we call complaining and what we call venting.

I had one or two problems that I wanted to talk about, but I know people who have millions of them, it seems.  No matter what their circumstances, they'll find something to complain about.  They might have won $30,000 in the lottery, but it wasn't enough, because with $35,000, they could have paid off their mortgage. And the taxes. . . . I know people who say that it's not worth winning a large cash prize because the taxes are so high.  Well, even if the IRS takes 60% of the $30,000, they're still up $12,000 that they didn't have before.  Besides, despite all of the negative we hear about the IRS and the government (much of it justified, I'm afraid), most of the money that goes their way goes towards the public good.  What better way to spend money?

When I give gifts to these people, I hear "It's beautiful, but what am I going to do with it?" or "It's nice, but I really wanted. . . ."  They express little graciousness, if any.  Their health is always bad, and things at work are always going poorly.  Friends always betray them, or never write, or never call, or never drop by, and when they do drop by, they always pick such an inconvenient time. The new car is great, but let me tell you about the flaws.

This topic goes hand-in-hand with the topic of perspective in our main section. These people tend to focus on the negative, seemingly ignoring the positive aspects of any given situation.  A beautiful day?  Yes, but the wind's a bit chilly.  Forget the chilliness--the wind is what it is, and there's no way to change it, so accept it for just what it is.  And if someone mentions how beautiful the weather is and you end up complaining about it, you've basically just shot that someone down, taking their positive perspective and dragging it in the mud, dirtying it up for yourself so it will be something to complain about.  I actually had someone complain once that I said "thank you" too often when people did things for me.

Complaining takes something out of everyone.  Focusing on the negative drags others down, especially when it's done often, in many different situations.  If you see something wrong, complain about it, but do something about it, too.  Don't just sit there and complain--it too quickly becomes a habit.  Without complaints, there's no change, but when complaining becomes a way of life, there's little light in life to keep us warm.


He never complained.  He seemed to have no instinct for the
making much of oneself that complaining requires.

Wendell Berry
Jayber Crow


It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect.  The more
perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become
towards the defects of others.

Joseph Addison


This life is not for complaint, but for satisfaction.

Henry David Thoreau


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Others may argue about whether the world ends with a bang or a whimper.
I just want to make sure mine doesn't end with a whine.

Barbara Gordon


Constant complaint is the poorest sort of pay for all the comforts we enjoy.

Benjamin Franklin


What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it.
If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.

Maya Angelou


Is life so wretched?  Isn't it rather your hands which are too small,
your vision which is muddled?  You are the one who must grow up.

Dag Hammarskjold

Complaints work against you in three ways.  First, no one wants to hear negative news
about your illness and your problems.  Second, complaining reinforces your own
pain and discomfort.  So why keep replaying painful, negative memories?  Third,
complaining, by itself, accomplishes nothing and diverts you from the
constructive actions you could be taking to improve your situation.

Jeff Keller


I will not be as those who spend the day in complaining of headache,
and the night in drinking the wine that gives it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We have no more right to put our discordant states of mind into the
lives of those around us and rob them of their sunshine and brightness
than we have to enter their houses and steal their silverware.

Julia Seton

Those who are content have enough; those that complain, have too much.

Benjamin Franklin


Don't complain because you don't have.  Enjoy what you've got.

H. Stanley Judd


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If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied
it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can
work out. . . . Complaining does not work as a strategy.  We all have finite
time and energy.  Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us
achieve our goals.  And it won't make us happier.

Randy Pausch
The Last Lecture

I know it's important to do more than just complain when there's
something you don't like.  You need to try to do something
about it, or you're nothing but a whiner.

Jean Ferris
Twice Upon a Marigold

Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.


When any fit of gloominess, or perversion of mind, lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints.

Samuel Johnson

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.

Anthony J. D'Angelo
The College Blue Book

Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity, and consume your own smoke with an extra draft of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaints.

William Osler

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The truly patient person neither complains of his or her hard lot nor desires to be
pitied by others.  This person speaks of sufferings in a natural, true, and sincere
way, without murmuring, complaining, or exaggerating them.

Francis de Sales

Now, ten years later, the person who talked and complained is still talking
and complaining and still remains in the same position.  The person who
took the initiative and found solutions has been promoted several times.

Catherine Pulsifer


I personally believe we developed language
because of our deep inner need to complain.

Jane Wagner
The Search for Signs of
Intelligent Life in the Universe

We live in a culture of complaint because everyone is always looking for
things to complain about.  It's all tied in with the desire to blame others
for misfortunes and to get some form of compensation into the bargain.

Alexander McCall Smith
The World According to Bertie

Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night,
poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again.  Sister,
those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards,
and their blankets became their winding sheets.  And those dead folks would
give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten
minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about.  So you watch
yourself about complaining, Sister.  What you're supposed to do when you
don't like a thing is change it.
If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.  Don't complain.

Maya Angelou
Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now


See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about
a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings,
your life situation, even the weather.  To complain is always nonacceptance of
what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge.  When you
complain, you make yourself into a victim.  When you speak out, you are in
your power.  So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if
necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it.  All else is madness.

Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now

My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end.
Nothing is easier than fault finding.  All it will do is discolor my
personality so that none will want to associate with me.
That was my old life.  No more.

Og Mandino

Acceptance means no complaining, and happiness means no
complaining about the things over which you can do nothing.

Wayne W. Dyer
Your Erroneous Zones


The point of complaining is not necessarily that it's going to change things.
It's more kind of an existential act that is essential to democracy.

Matthew Bakkom

All happy people are grateful.  Ungrateful people cannot be happy.
We tend to think that being unhappy leads people to complain, but
it’s truer to say that complaining leads to people becoming unhappy.

Dennis Prager

Don't complain about the snow on your neighbor's roof
when your own doorstep is unclean.



You can overcome anything if you don't bellyache.

Bernard M. Baruch

Complaining about every detail of our lives seems so natural.  We always
have a preconception about what "should be."  Then, of course, "what is"
is never quite right.  But it is possible to change this pattern of thinking.
Contrary to what we may have believed up until now,
the pattern is made by us.  It doesn't have to happen.

Karen Casey

My daily choice is to rise and shine or rise and whine.



Complaint is the antithesis of gratitude.  Should you be tempted to complain, find something to be grateful for instead.  A comedian recounted that he was on an airplane when the in-flight entertainment system stopped working for a few minutes.  The passenger seated next to him grunted, “Doesn’t anything work anymore?”  The comedian thought to himself, Here you are sitting in a chair in a meticulously engineered aircraft traveling nearly 600 miles an hour at an altitude of 35,000 feet.  You are speeding from Atlanta to San Francisco in five hours, a trip that once would have taken a year, which you might not have survived.  You are being served a hot meal with wine while using Wi-Fi to surf the Web, send e-mail, and text your kids.  When the entertainment system comes back on in a few minutes, you will have your choice of a hundred movies and as many music and educational channels.  You can get up and go to the bathroom anytime you like.  Every modern comfort, convenience, and safety is provided for you during your journey.  And you say, “Nothing is working?”

The truth is that far, far, far more things work than don’t work. Most things work almost all the time.  What is not working are our thoughts that deny all the good things that are working.  Even when things don’t appear to be working, the challenge is bringing us some insight that will help us as we overcome it. In that sense, everything is working.  The master of the Tao makes everything work in her favor by recognizing, receiving, celebrating, and expanding the blessings already present.

Alan Cohen
The Tao Made Easy